As the days go by at an ever quickening rate, I am forced to face my feelings about actually leaving this house.  Up until now, I have been too busy to think about it.  Please don’t misunderstand.  I haven’t stopped being busy (although I had an extremely unproductive day yesterday and am feeling guilty to the nth degree) but the day is approaching and I am going to leave.  This house has seen some big events in my life.  We moved here four years ago, after having lived in the same house for 35 years.  I thought that I would never be able to cope with the knowledge that somebody else was living in my home.  However in that case as the move was a long drawn out affair with constant changing of the moving date etc.  I had the panic attacks early on, and then got into planning the move like a military operation which is why by the time we actually had to hand over the keys, I was already renting this place, and my old home had become just that: the place I used to live.

Objectively, I know that the same is true of this house also.  I know that it will just be a place I used to live.  I don’t have any illusions about the ‘perfection’ of the house.  It leaks, the owners went for style over practicality at every turn and don’t even get me started on the damp.  Still though, it has been the place I called home for a while now.  My sister K and her husband moved in with us when their flat flooded and ended up staying for over two years on and off  during which time their daughter, G, was born and added nothing but joy and happiness to our lives.  G, aged two and a half, still considers this place home as well as her ‘new ‘ome’ as she calls their lovely new house and this is evident in the confident way she enters and makes herself comfortable.  There are many memories here.

We briefly installed a stair-lift for when my mum had a hip replacement operation.  This was an amazing process which they managed to do quickly and without destroying the (rented) house.  I had felt at the time that this was an excessive and expensive undertaking.  After all, Mum should be getting used to stairs, and the climbing and descending of the stairs could be limited to one of each a day if she was so inclined.  As it happened, I was right.  Mum hardly ever used the stair-lift as the doctors told her that using the stairs would aid her recovery.  So while she happily climbed up the stairs several times a day, the stair-lift became a sort of ‘ride’.  My nieces and nephews would arrive and immediately start asking for rides in the ‘magic chair’.  I was terrified of the thing at first.  One of the guys who installed it asked me if I wanted to try it out.  I admitted I was scared. It was a combination of things really.  Firstly I was worried that it wouldn’t hold my weight.  Even though it clearly said on the side of the chair that it could hold up to 135 kgs, I was still worried that I would be the one exception to the rule and that the lift would sputter and die while I was on it.  He told me not to worry and actually walked up the stairs holding my hand while I rode up.  (These people must have stories to tell and I should be grateful he didn’t just point and laugh).  The other thing was that I was worried that I would no longer want to ever climb the steps again. It’s a bit like my car.  It has one of those auto-park features where you press a button, drive past the space, let go of the wheel, but the car into reverse and it parks for you.  At least I think that’s how it works.  I have never used it as I am afraid I will lose my parking mojo and never be able to parallel park again.  Anyway.  The roller coaster at our house was oft talked about and in fact no one adult or child actually came through without having a go.  I used it shamelessly to get things up and down the stairs.  No more lugging for me.  Everything was placed on the stair-lift, strapped in and sent up or down at will.  Of course, the whole thing about these things is that they are for people who are elderly or injured.  The trip up or down is not supposed to be speedy, it is supposed to be gentle.  Even though we had one that curved around the staircase and swiveled to let you up at the top of the stairs ( a real white knuckle ride) it was like a roller coaster for snails really.  It took 3 minutes to get to the top of the stairs and you can walk it in less than 30 seconds.  Still, everyone had a laugh, so the money wasn’t completely wasted (Er, right.).

At night just before I fall asleep, I get a brief moment of panic.  My heartbeat quickens and I think what if I can’t cope with leaving.  Then I take a few deep breaths and tell myself that of course I can cope.  I have to cope.  I will cope.  This house, where I have been so happy, in the perfect location, is just a house.  It is a shell and it isn’t the bricks and windows that have made me feel happy and safe.  I can see the house becoming a shell once more as we take down our stuff and the boxes pile up.  Soon, I will be comfortable and at home in the flat.  In six months,if or when we move again, I will have to get used to that place.  Growing up in the same house for so long, and having that constancy was wonderful in some ways but it also made me fearful of change.  I figure if I move enough times I will overcome my natural distaste for change of any kind and grow a pair.  This is why I have gone from being permanently settled to a gypsy.  Moving has become something that I am used to.  I think I have acquired a taste for it even.  Yes it’s a faff.  Yes it isn’t without its problems, but it also affords me the opportunity to have a massive clear-out every few years, and change my circumstances.  Win win if you ask me.

The other day I was thinking about the useless things that I have been persuaded to keep against my better judgement, the latest being an old mattress that used to be on my bed and now has a hole in it and a metal spike protruding from it.  D literally bleeds every time she sleeps on it.  She will not hear of me throwing it away and in fact has decided to put it on the bed base that is in our new flat even though it is about a foot wider. Madness.  However, she will be sleeping on it, so I assume that she is prepared to endure the bleeding and I will make sure she updates her tetanus shots.  As I was thinking about useless stuff we kept, I had this image in my mind of this clothes airer that we had rigged up in the utility area in my old house. It was basically four poles attached together with plastic brackets, and you lowered it and raised it with an fraying grey rope attached to a pulley.  I remember having a conversation about whether we should keep it and insisting that we should not. I thought thank goodness we didn’t keep that ratty hanger.  At least that is one thing that got thrown out and didn’t follow me back into the house from the skip.  Later that day, I went to the garage at the new flat to see how much space there was for the excess of junk that we are keeping this time.  No word of a lie, propped up by the garage door was – yes you’ve guessed it – the clothes airer.  I could not believe my eyes.  I had only had the thought that afternoon.  Someone must have ‘rescued’ it from the skip while I wasn’t looking and secreted into the van going to the garage.  I felt so betrayed.  And so, so alone.